When to Accept a Review Copy

As I’ve gained more followers here on my blog and on my YouTube channel, I’ve noticed more authors have been requesting me to review their books. It is definitely wonderful to get that kind of recognition, but it has also made me wonder whether you should accept every review copy you are offered.

I recently got into a discussion with a friend about whether or not to accept a review copy we were both sent. Because, although it is a great compliment, if the story doesn’t appeal to you, it means you’ll spend time reading a book you do not enjoy.

When you still have a small channel such as myself the big publishers are not interested in you just yet. That’s simply the way it is. Hitting 10,000 subscribers gives you a good chance of getting physical review copies from established publishers. 230 subscribers, not so much. And that’s alright. I’m not expecting anything just yet. However, a group of authors that are really keen on getting their books reviewed as much as possible are self publishers. And to get a good amount of reviews that also means contacting smaller channels.

It’s a smart strategy and I cannot disagree it’s a good way to get people familiar with your book. Especially since you can send the book without spending any money as the self published author (most often) sends an ebook. Now, even getting an offer like that is great (it’s a free book after all!), but there are some things to consider before accepting a review copy.

First of all, the story really should appeal to you in some way. I personally really like to pick up something unexpected and unknown. So, often, I feel like accepting a review copy, just to read something different for a change. However, that means running the risk of absolutely hating the book and still having to finish it since you did promise a review.

Secondly, you should be able to separate the fact the author was so generous to send you the book from the actual review. No matter how bad you feel for the author if you awarded her book a one-star rating, you should not refrain from giving an honest review.

And finally, picking up a review copy means having less time to pick up those books you have really been looking forward to reading. Granted, a review copy can mean that you’ve just found a new fantastic author, but that isn’t a guarantee. Especially with self published authors, who haven’t undergone the editing process at a publisher, there’s a real chance you won’t become a big fan. It’s something to realise and think about before blindly accepting every review thrown your way.

It’s odd, because not accepting a review copy may seem like being ungrateful, but I personally feel you should be confident about the review copies you accept. After all, if you have the feeling you are not going to enjoy the book, resulting into a bad review, you are not helping the author by accepting it.


14 thoughts on “When to Accept a Review Copy

  1. I have absolutely no problems turning down a book. About half of the items I review are from indie authors. I just give them a reason that makes perfect sense, ie: “I’m super, super picky about this topic, so it’d probably not fair well under my review. You might want to find someone else.” or “I’m completely non-religious, so I’m probably the wrong person to review your work that’s heavily religion based.” Sometimes, though, it’s as simple as “Sorry, but I’m going to have to decline. It just doesn’t interest me at this time.”

    Now, if there’s a book that I’m on the fence about, I ask to be sent a sample chapter. Sometimes just reading that first chapter will give me a fair idea.

    There’s been some times when I was sent a few stinkers, but overall, not being afraid to say no means that I’ve had pretty good luck.

    With that being said, there’s been more than once when I reach out to an author I was reviewing and went “Look, it’s obvious at this point I’m not going to give the book a good review for (x) reason. Why don’t we just forget you ever sent it to me?” That way I’m not forced to slog through a book I absolutely can’t stand to read and they’re happy to not get a bad review.

    1. I love the suggestion to contact the author with the option of not posting a review; it’s so kind. I agree with Marieke on not giving reviews just as a nicety, but the opt-out is such a kind alternative, and also gives the author a heads up for what’s coming (if they want you to proceed anyway). I gave a negative review to an author who sent her work once, and then she tried to guilt me because her husband had just been diagnosed with something — as though I could have known, and as though it were relevant.

      1. I don’t advertise that I do it. People submit to me under the assumption I may rip their work to shreds, and sometimes I quite easily do. Most of my opt-outs happen when it’s a writing style thing and I can recognize there’s not necessarily anything wrong with it, it just doesn’t suit me.

        Wth?! You don’t guilt people with that stuff.

      2. Couldn’t agree more. The opt-out is a good idea indeed. Definitely because for the author it spares them a bad review and as a reviewer you can DNF the book without feeling guilty. On the other hand, in some way I also feel it’s good to let readers know what books are good and what books are not, so by doing the previous, the audience may be misled that a book is good (mostly this corrects itself I guess, because it won’t be picked up, because of the low number of reviews, but that is the dilemma I’m always faced with).

        That’s so weird! Nice way to try to make you feel horrible while it has nothing to do with the book.

    1. Glad to hear it :)! I know what you’re saying. Reviews mean so much to authors, especially new ones, but it is difficult to write something negative when you’ve been sent a book by the author or publisher, because it feels more personal, even though it shouldn’t.

      1. Exactly . And I’m not conformable with telling them I don’t like their book directly either , and that leaves me writing things and then sending them links with bad reviews . It just kills me to do it and especially so with indie authors :/ Maybe I should stop accepting until I’m comfortable with telling what I think .

        1. Maybe… but putting an honest opinion out there is valuable. But in the end you should do what you feel like doing. I’ve personally decided to stop reviewing, realizing it’s not my thing and I want to focus on writing rather than reviewing.

          1. I feel that book blogging takes too much of my time and I don’t get to work on the book I’ve been trying to get down . While I love reading all the time , I also want to write . I mean , I could use those hours I write and edit those reviews in for writing . I’m a confused soul :/

          2. I TOTALLY feel you. I always struggle between blogging time and writing time as well. I’ve decided to mainly focus on my writing right now and I’ll blog when I feel like it. Hey, do you have twitter or instagram or something?

          3. Yep . Twitter : @harini1482002, Insta : harinireads . I guess I’ll have to stop being too active in blogging if I ever want to see my book done . Like blogging , school and writing is a hard combination to go with , right ?

          4. Fantasy! I enjoying reading that the most so I thought it made sense to write in that genre as well. I’m really enjoying it :D. Ah, thanks. That’s really sweet.

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